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Fire Hazards and Mitigation Measures Associated With Seismic Damage of Water Heaters.

pdf icon Fire Hazards and Mitigation Measures Associated With Seismic Damage of Water Heaters. (7476 K)
Mroz, M. P.; Soong, T. T.

NIST GCR 97-732; 98 p. December 1997.


National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD

Available from:

National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB98-122989


water heaters; fire hazards; damage; commercial buildings; residential buildings; earthquakes; flame structure


The basic objective of the experimental and analytical program detailed in this report is to perform an assessment of fire hazards and to develop mitigation measures associated with seismic damage of water heaters and related components in commercial and residential buildings. This research concentrates on restraint systems for ordinary water heaters (40 gallons to 150 gallons) using existing restraint methods proposed by the California Office of the State Architect and several manufacturers and improved restraints evolved in the course of this study. This report documents results, proposes modifications and introduces improved methods to those developed by the aforementioned organizations based on a four-week test session performed at the shaking table facility at the State University of New York at Buffalo and computer simulation. The tests conducted utilized several earthquake records at a variety of peak ground acceleration levels on wter heaters with various restraint systems. Test results are compared with computer simulation results. The response of the water heaters to the earthquake inputs was then analyzed to enable a quantitative evaluation of the restraint methods. Discussion and conclusions regarding the sensitivity of the water heaters and related components to earthquakes and the performance of the restraint systems are presented. In addition to restraint measures, another means of fire hazard mitigation regarding water heaters during a seismic event is the installation of automatic gas shut-off valves. This option is another focus of this study. An assessment is made in this regard based on available test data performed on gas shut-off valves and on commercially available hardware designed for seismic applications.